The Art of the Story...

In the words of Seth Godin, ‘Marketing is no longer about the stuff that you make but about the stories you tell’. As humans we are intrinsically drawn to stories… they help us learn, inspire us and more importantly, we remember them. I mean, when was the last time you heard the story of ‘Little Red Riding Hood’? Yet, I bet you could recite it almost word for word right now!

It’s wonderful to see so many small businesses embrace story-telling to build their brand and develop customer relationships, but some organisations still find it tricky to master the art of telling their story, so I’ve put together 5 top tips to help!

 

Know your story!

So, this might seem obvious but before you can tell the story of your business in a way that engages your audience, you need to know the story yourself.  So, ask yourself:

  • What are the circumstances? Setting the scene will help get listener buy in and will keep them hooked throughout
  • How can I inspire curiosity? If you don’t leave the audience wanting more, then your story will end before it’s begun
  • Who are the people involved in my story? Characters make your story, if there are no people, there is no story.
  • What went wrong? Successful stories only work when something interrupts the equilibrium, so consider the challenges and how you overcame them.

 

Be Authentic!

Remember that the aim of the story is to build relationships and to do that you need to build trust. Consumers can and will identify when you aren’t being real. Your story doesn’t have to be an elaborate adventure. It’s ok for your business not to have the most exciting history. Instead, your story can tell the human side of your business. Use it to discuss your challenges and failures, this will build an emotional connection with your audience and will reveal admirable characteristics that resonate with people, like innovation and resilience. So, to craft a story, where you might feel that none exists, consider what emotional connection you want to achieve with your audience and build your story from there.

 

Make your audience the hero!

John Bates, who has trained hundreds of TEDx speakers, says ‘Your message is in your mess’. Your audience don’t care how well qualified you are, how much money you have in your bank account or how many businesses you own. Your successes aren’t inspiring but your failures are. As humans we are all flawed and so human nature automatically relates to failure. So, don’t be afraid to bare your failures and be sure to make your audience the hero, the people who led you through failures to eventual success.

 

Use the senses to engage your audience!

‘I remember the sun was shining and the smell of freshly cut grass was in the air. The sound of children playing filled the air as the warmth of the Spring sun covered my face’…You smelled that grass and felt the sun on your face just now... am I right? Appealing to senses that your audience recognises will make sure that they are fully immersed in your story and can empathise with it. Just make sure you don’t over-do it.

Have a clear outcome!

What do you want to achieve from your story and more importantly what does your audience want to get from listening to your story? It’s likely that you might have several versions of your story e.g. one for your banker and another for your customers but the underlying message will always be the same.  If your story is part of your ‘About section’ on your website then the outcome may be to build credibility so that people will click through to another page, whereas, in delivering a presentation, your outcome may be for people to get to know you personally. Either way be sure you know what the purpose is for your business and always end with a call to action.

 

So just remember, not every business will have a story like Microsoft’s or Amazon’s, but every business has the power to leverage story-telling to engage their customers, build brand loyalty and develop relationships that build leads and sales. You just need to take time to figure out an authentic story that sets the scene, appeals to the emotional side of your customers, makes the audience the hero, engages the senses and has a clear purpose.

Website: Concept NI Web Solutions

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